Bill Rodgers’ works are undeniably some of the most inspirational works I have read and used in my teaching career. I was lucky enough to attend one of his workshops and I can still clearly remember today not only his charisma but also his invaluable tips in terms of effective classroom management.
One of the main tips is to avoid any confrontation with students. No matter the issue, try to preserve the relationship you have with your students. Keep calm and breathe! Easier said than done! Here are some ideas that I use and that are directly inspired from Bill Rodgers’ works.
First of all, try to consider the whole group and not just the individuals whose behavior is challenging. Try to refocus your energy on the ones who are willing to work. Praise their work and reward them. This positive approach will have a positive impact by showing more reluctant students that if they are on task and do the work to the best of their abilities they will as well have the opportunity to be praised and rewarded.
Nobody likes to be shouted at. Let’s face it; finding the energy to stay calm in every single situation can be though. However, you should try to stop shouting and arguing with students about what they do wrong. The first reason is that it only makes things worse. The second reason is that you will end up losing your voice. The more you shout, the louder your classroom volume will be. Instead, when some students are not listening, lower your voice for giving instructions; vary the intonation of your voice according to the message you want to convey. Use a more positive language like: “ Eddy, I’d like you facing the board and getting on with the task… thanks.” Don’t underestimate the use of thanking students. Soon you will realize that you thank them all the time!
Stop. Pause. Breathe. This technique is very useful to bring back some calm attitude within the classroom. At some point –it could take a couple of minutes, your students will acknowledge that something unusual is happening and they will stop chatting. Most of the time students and especially teenagers are daydreaming or in their bubbles and just because you stopped talking they will realize that they have been given a task to do. Once the classroom is calm again, you gain their attention, call their names, use eye contact and reformulate your instruction.